Blackstone Group’s agreement to acquire Centro Properties Group’s U.S. shopping center portfolio for $9.4 billion is being hailed as a sign that the retail real estate market has officially turned a corner.

The deal means that two Blackstone acquisitions—Equity Office Properties in early 2007 and Centro's retail properties today—make for neat bookends in marking the commercial real estate’s cyclical peak and the end of the bottom.

Overall, the deal ranks as the second largest retail real estate acquisition ever, surpassed only by General Growth Properties' $12.4 billion acquisition of Rouse Co. in 2004.

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